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R E M A R K A B L E T E ACH E R 27 March 2017 | Professionally Speaking PHOTOS: RAINA+WILSON D edication. Desire. Determination. Discipline. When you walk into the gym at Monarch Park Collegiate Institute in Toronto, these are the words you'll see. Though they've likely been there long before Penny Oleksiak enrolled at the east-end school, it's inspiring to think that they could have played a part in her tying as Canada's most decorated Olympic swimmer ever. After all, she trained in that very space leading up to the Rio 2016 Games — and it was there that Bryan McAlpine, OCT, guided the teen through a gruelling but effective semester-long personal fitness program prior to her summer of triumphs. Meeting Oleksiak in that very gymnasium, on a brisk December morning, is to understand the study in contradictions that she presents to the world. At 16 years of age, she stands at an impressive 6 foot 1 and radiates an almost tangible air of profound physical strength — yet somehow she's retained the shyly endearing smile of an ordinary teenage girl. Gnawing distractedly on her blue-painted nails, the young record-setter discusses the Lou Marsh Trophy she had won the day before. When asked how she feels about being named the country's top athlete, beating out the likes of a long list of superstars, she replies: "It means a lot, especially knowing that I was considered on the same level as Sidney Crosby — I bet he doesn't even know who I am. But that was yesterday — it's time to move on to the next thing." With Oleksiak delivering so many surprises in Rio, it's anyone's guess as to what to expect next. "There are people who say that Penny could easily become the most decorated athlete in Canadian history," says McAlpine, who was her physical education teacher last year. "But we all have to understand that she's only 16 — we need to peel off the pressure." One of the ways that the staff at Monarch Park does that is by making sure that equal attention is paid to the Grade 11's academic and athletic life — an approach that her parents strongly support. Olympic swim sensation Penny Oleksiak may have captured the world's attention with her record-setting summer in Rio, but her focus nevertheless remains on her studies back home. BY RICHARD OUZOUNIAN Waves Making

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